History against cup giant-killers Bradford for Sunderland tie
Bradford City may have stunned Premier League leaders Chelsea in the previous round, but FA Cup last 16 opponents Sunderland lost just once at Valley Parade in 25 years and won their last three visits by scoring four times. The Black Cats are 14/1 chances with Coral to do this again or better here.
Gus Poyet’s side are 21/20 for victory at the Bantams, but their hosts reached the Capital One Cup final while still a fourth-tier team in 2013. Sunderland were runners-up in that competition last year themselves, so both sets of fans can recall recent agony and ecstasy en route to Wembley.
It’s a big ask for Bradford at 11/4 to beat the Black Cats, but the League One team, who could drop as low as 12th if results go against them while they have this cup run, did raise their game superbly at Stamford Bridge to stun Chelsea.
Valley Parade’s Kop, which was made into two tiers following the tragic fire of 1985 in which 56 fans died, is very vocal. Sunderland can expect a hostile atmosphere and one that will only be intensified by their run of victories on this ground. A draw is a 9/4 chance.
Punters will look to Black Cats winter window capture Jermain Defoe for goals here, after he netted twice since returning to England from the MLS. Ex-England international Defoe is even-money in the anytime market, and better at 4/1 to grab the opener.
Sunderland supporters need to have the connection between themselves and their side that sit 15th in the Premier League re-established, according to head coach Poyet. “I think the fans want Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips back but they are not playing anymore,” he said.
Defoe, partnered by either Steven Fletcher or Connor Wickham (both 5/4 to score anytime) is pretty similar to that little and large strike pairing of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Phillips once hit a hat-trick at Valley Parade, though Defoe is 20/1 to emulate his Black Cats predecessor here.
Phil Parkinson needs his Bantams to go to the well once more to continue this crazy run, but it is getting to the point where that may be slightly hampering their promotion prospects. Jon Stead, derided as a flop by those selfsame Sunderland supporters that idolised Phillips and Quinn, will be desperate to prove them wrong.
His goal at Chelsea and overall contribution to the mother of all FA Cup shocks, will go down in Bradford’s history. Not bad for a loanee from bitter west Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield Town.
Stead is on offer at 11/4 in the anytime market. Midfielder Billy Knott, who came through the Academy of Light, also faces his former club here, and is 11/2 to come back and haunt the Black Cats by scoring.
Portuguese player Filipe Morais, meanwhile, has netted in four consecutive matches, and this purple patch demands attention. It’s a 6/1 shot that he scores for a fifth game on the spin.
On Valentine’s weekend, who says romance is dead? Believe in the Bantams, who are 13/2 to repay punters’ faith by winning with both teams scoring.